Nurit Karlin, Israeli-born Pioneering New Yorker Cartoonist, Dies at 80

For many years Karlin was the only woman who drew cartoons for the New Yorker. After moving back to Israel, she became active with a nonprofit that monitors Palestinian human rights

Nurit Karlin, an Israeli-born artist who crashed the nearly all-male world of New Yorker magazine cartoonists, died April 30 at a hospital in Tel Aviv.

She was 80. No cause of death was given.

An appreciation of Karlin in The New Yorker, where she was a regular cartoonist for 14 years beginning in 1974, noted that most of her cartoons, which were usually captionless, “are not really jokes but, rather, visual thoughts that force the viewer to pause and grasp an idea.”

They include an egg awaiting its future in a bird cage, an envelope from “The Sublime” addressed to “The Ridiculous,” and a museum gallery full of mice admiring paintings of mazes.

In one of her more poignant images, considering that she was born in Jerusalem, two doves fight over an olive branch.

The New Yorker noted that for much of her tenure she was the only woman drawing cartoons for the magazine (a drought that ended in 1978 with the hiring of Roz Chast, another Jewish cartoonist). Before coming to the United States to study animation at the School of Visual Arts in New York, she served in the Israeli army and studied at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem.

Fellow cartoonist Liza Donnelly recalled that when she asked Karlin where she got her ideas, she replied, “If I knew where they came from, I would be the first in line! I used to doodle. Then something would be there.”

Karlin published a collection of her work, “No Comment,” in 1978. She also wrote and illustrated children’s books, including “The Tooth Witch” (1985), “The Dream Factory” (1988) and “I See, You Saw” (1997).

Karlin, who never married, is survived by her sister, Dina Wardi, and two nieces.

After retiring about 13 years ago, she returned to live in Israel, according to The New York Times. She was active with Yesh Din, a nonprofit that monitors the human rights of Palestinians living under Israeli military control.